Emerging military scenarios with increasing complex threats are demanding new and advanced radiofrequency (RF) systems to ensure the strategic autonomy of the European Union (EU).
CROWN project, launched in July 2021 under the EU Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) program, will address research and technological development activities to go a step further in the development of European next-generation multifunction radiofrequency (RF) system mainly for airborne surveillance platforms based on Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESA) technology capable of integrating radar, electronic defence and communications functions into a single compact and lightweight item of equipment. The project will make a significant contribution towards building European industrial defence capability and ensuring industrial independence.
“Nowadays, efforts to overcome the technological limits of fully operational multifunction RF systems are made worldwide, developing future enabling technologies to make these multifunctional RF systems feasible, applicable, and affordable. CROWN unites some of the EU’s major defence contractors, radar manufacturers, and research institutes and takes an initiative to define the steps towards the availability of a multifunction RF AESA-based system”, - says Sonia Gracia Anadón, Project Coordinator of CROWN.
CROWN is a Research Action targeting for TRL 4 that mostly focuses on the proposed technology (system and separate components) development until possible testing in the laboratory environment. Work and results obtained during CROWN will help to show the way forward giving an idea of the investment, milestones, and research activities for future developments. CROWN activities include R&D assessment and recommendations on key critical technologies for the development of future European multifunction RF AESA systems establishing roadmaps and priorities for EU suppliers.
Sonia Gracia Anadón singles out European autonomy as a critical factor to guarantee the supply chain for the system and components. “Currently, dependency on non-European countries is found in the supply chain of key components for these systems. CROWN addresses the need to identify the critical EU technologies to establish and support future actions with the appropriate R&D investment in Europe, providing improved and new EU industrial capacities”, - continues S. Gracia Anadón.
It is expected that in ensuring inner-Union independent technical solutions, the project will contribute to strengthening the European industry and improving its global position through the implementation of innovative technologies along a new European manufacturing value chain.
Project’s R&T activities on system and component level will be based on the requirements identified from the main stakeholders and on the architecture study fulfilled. In addition, a small-scale prototype will be also designed, manufactured, and tested in a laboratory environment.
The CROWN consortium is coordinated by Indra (Spain) and brings together 11 leading industry members, research centres and SME‘s from seven EU countries: Thales (France), Office National D’Etudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales (ONERA, France), Hensoldt (Germany), Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR, Germany), SAAB (Sweden), Totalforsvarets Forskningsinstitut (FOI, Sweden), Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO, Netherlands), Leonardo (Italy), Elettronica (Italy), and Baltic Institute of Advanced Technology (BPTI, Lithuania). The project has a duration of 30 months and a budget of approximately € 10 million.